#AdventWord 2019: 9 Root

Root Llee_Wu from Flickr

As a gardener I know that roots are important. They support, nourish and interact with the community in the soil. Today’s #AdventWord reminds me that it is vital that any charity, business, worshipping group or other organisation stays in contact with its roots.

Regular reviews of where you’ve come from and where you want to go are vital to ensure that you continue to grow, develop and stay connected as a community. While working with clients it can seem that the ‘business’ part of the charity is separate from the main aims of the charity, yet they must stay connected and reflect each other.

There must be a flow of information and inspiration from both sections, with transparency and integrity to guarantee policies and processes grow from and support the reason for the charities existence.

For example, I often say to people wanting to hire a building I manage, ‘This building’s primary purpose is to be a home for the local Quaker worshipping community”. Keeping that in mind means that everything else flows freely through the system. ‘Is this a good idea?’ can be compared to that statement – does it help Quakers use their building for worship, or any concerns that the meeting has discerned.

With this firmly in mind any suggestion with the defence ‘It will make more money’ when held against that purpose can be considered irrelevant. ‘It will help us maintain the building or move forward on a project’ means that the suggestion now has merit. ‘It is something that the meeting has discerned needs to happen’ now gives it the highest priority.

Roots only grow in fertile soil, so everyone involved in the decision making must ensure that they are nourished, supported and interact with the community around them. Not only the local worshipping or charity community, but the wider local community. Supporting trustees, employees and committee members is a responsibility for everyone within that community.

  • How can you work with your committee to gain the support you need?

Quaker Social Action report on Funeral Poverty

Photo by Rhodi Lopez on Unsplash

Quaker Social Action have been investigating funeral directors since 2007 and yesterday launched their report into this matter, ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ supported by a grant from Quakers & Business.

Research started in 2007, with their award winning project Down to Earth starting in 2010. Fair Funerals was launched in 2014 and ran to 2018 and to date 1,768 funeral director branches are signed up to a price transparency pledge. Down to Earth provides advocacy work and has supported over 4000 bereaved people since it started – last year over 700.

The funeral business is unregulated, and the Competition and Markets Authority are especially concerned at the lack of clear pricing statements, and comprehensive information, making it hard for vulnerable people to compare what is offered. The cost of a simple funeral is now nearly £4,000; 12% of people faced with a funeral struggle to pay for it, and they take on an average debt of nearly £2000

Four staff members provide mainly phone and on-line support. They also have helped get clear and affordable pricing of funerals, are working in partnership with politicians on a cross-party basis, other charities and Royal London Insurance to get policy change. This includes plans to regulate the funeral industry, whose charges have risen far ahead of inflation; helping to get an increase in the Funeral Expenses Payment – fixed for 15 years at £700 but rising to £1000 in March and then being tied to inflation; supporting the introduction of a Children’s Funeral Fund; and highlighting the need for standards for public health funerals.

This project has saved people an average of £1,800 against initial funeral quotations where consulted before the funeral and nearly 1,600 where the consultation has followed the funeral.

There is grant funding for the project, but a shortfall of £500 per day needs to be found.

Each year the Big Give Christmas Challenge runs from 3-10 December. Money donated on-line is doubled – and this year QSA is one of the charities to benefit from this.

Read more about it here: https://fairfuneralscampaign.org.uk/co…/what-funeral-poverty

Donations can be made to www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/biggive2019. But don’t give yet! Remember between December 3rd & 10th any donation will be matched.

You can download a copy of the report ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ from the QSA website: https://quakersocialaction.org.uk/taking-social-action/news/qsa-launches-funeral-poverty-report-london-event

The Big Give Christmas Challenge Logo

Quakers & Business Gathering and AGM 2019 – Strategy Day

The Strategy Day is an opportunity to: Explore what Q&B does now. Help shape its future with plans on how it can best support both its members and further abroad.

Quakers and Business Group promotes Quaker values and principles in business and the workplace. It provides a supportive network for those upholding these principles, researches into ethical business practices and runs events.

  • learn more about the work Q&B are currently supporting
  • hear the results of the annual survey
  • share values and priorities
  • build community and network
  • shape future priorities and goals

Full details and ways to pay on: https://qandb.org/gathering-2019

Q&B’s AGM will be held at lunchtime after networking time.

Face to Face with some of London’s cleaners

Clean for Good is a cleaning firm with a difference.

I was delighted to attend the preview evening for this exhibition at St Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2DQ. It opens formally on Monday and will be open Monday – Thursday 11am – 2pm until the end of August 2019.

This is a selection of specially commissioned black and white portraits of some of Clean for Good’s cleaners and account mangers. There are eleven portraits so about a quarter of their current workforce.

There was laughter as the various staff members admired the photos and read each other’s bios – commenting on things they were learning about each other.

Cleaning choices are some of the ways you can live our your values as an ethical consumer. I talked about this back in the Quaker A-Z: C is for Choices.

Ethical Employment

Clean for Good strives to be London’s best cleaning company – and was recently recognised as a NatWest Top 100 Social Business 2019. Not bad for its second year in business!

The cleaners are employed direct – with full employment benefits, including pension, holiday and sick leave. As a customer, I like that Clean for Good are responsive and able to find alternative cleaners where necessary. Including recruiting in an area where they didn’t currently have a cleaner.

So, if you are looking for a cleaner, and want to be certain that are treated well by their employers including being paid the London Living Wage, then have a look:


I hope the idea spreads to other places. All people deserve to be treated with respect!

If you are in central London this summer why not pop in and come face to face with some of the cleaners of London?

The Quaker Business Method: How It Works Is Why It Works

At the 2018 Quakers & Business Conference Peter Cheng gave some very well received talks on his research into the Quaker Business Method and Cognitive Science.

The talks led to another event held in Birmingham, sponsored by the Quakers and Business Group and hosted by Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP.

The videos are now available and can be watched on the Q&B You Tube channel, or on the Q&B site resources page.

Society of Virtual Assistants Survey 2018

2015 07 17 Colourful pencil sharpeningsVirtual Assistant

I’m often asked by clients, where do I get my information about rates and other virtual assistants? One of the biggest answers is from here: The Society of Virtual Assistants (SVA) 9th annual survey. To read about how I define VA, read the home page, and if you are wondering how it all works – I have a page for that too!

The research was released last week and copies of the report are now available to buy from this link.

SVA Survey v9

To make it statistically valid, they needed at least 10% of the industry surveyed – which they calculated as 2,333 VAs working in the UK. However, it can be hard to calculate the total number of VAs in the UK. So many are classified as separate industries such as secretary, bookkeeper, marketing consultant – or even charity management consultants such as myself!

To quote the SVA’s blurb:

SVA’s annual survey designed to take a snapshot of the UK VA industry answering business critical questions like: How much can I charge? What will I earn as a VA? What are the most effective marketing strategies? What services are most popular? Which training programmes deliver the best value for money?

So, if you have ever wondered about using a VA, or what a VA could help you with – have a look at the survey, or at the SVA website. It was good to see that I’m not alone in having worked as a VA for over five years, and have no plans to stop any time soon.

(Facts taken from the survey linked above)

Fire Alarm – Do Not Touch!

2018 03 fire alarm - do not touch

Photo taken by Dana Rancette, used with permission


Fire is a serious risk. However, even if the equipment can be tempting to small people, I don’t recommend telling them taping the control panel shut, or posting signs telling people not to touch the fire alarm.

I suspect those intent on fiddling will ignore the sign. While you definitely don’t want to confuse someone in an emergency situation where they *should* sound the alarm.

Instead have regular fire alarm drills. Give training to your volunteers or employees. Suggest training for anyone else who use your building. You might be able to combine groups and provide training to everyone.

These combined with clear signage, plus the use of appropriate equipment coverings to prevent accidental usage or damage will mean fewer false alarms and give everyone involved more confidence that they know what they are doing if an emergency occurs.

You might also want to read:



Quaker Leadership Course

2016-06-28 Woodbrooke labyrinthQuaker Leadership

How does leadership work in our non-hierarchical Society of Friends, and what does it mean to take a lead when working in relationship with others?



Start Date: 23rd April 2018 12:00 am
End Date:13th May 2018 11:59 pm
Cost: £38.00
Delighted to see this – it will fit into my current exploration of leadership in a Quaker context, good to see more on line courses being offered which fit into so many people’s busy lives.

HeartsEdge Conference: Churches & Commerce

HE Churches commerce flyer - finalI’m delighted to be speaking on Outsourcing, at the HeartsEdge Churches & Commerce conference.

It looks like an interesting day, Jonathan Evens explained, ‘The reason for organising this event is that many churches struggle to cover the costs of their buildings and the ministry needed in their area. Finding other sources of income in addition to congregational giving can help significantly and can also extend the church’s engagement in God’s mission. This event enables participants to hear from people for whom commercial activities, including social enterprises, are making a real difference, not only to their church finances but also to their wider mission. We hope that ‘Churches & Commerce’ will be a day for anyone interested in making churches sustainable in their mission.’

If you’re interested – contact Jonathan at the information above. Hope to see some of you there!



Radical Spirituality


Lancaster University are running a free on line course exploring how/why Quakers formed and grew into the radical group they are today.

” Together, we will explore the beginnings of Quakerism and this critical piece of religious history of a group who gathered around a radical and outspoken spiritual message that was to change the face of 1650s England, and has since remained a distinctive part of the religious landscape.”

Click here to join now – it starts October 3rd.

I’m looking forward to it!